Michaela Walsh '13 has been researching short-term memory and how it works with Associate Professor of Psychology Kenneth Kallio. She is one of eight Geneseo students who presented research in various disciplines Oct. 29 and 30 at the Council of Liberal Arts Colleges Northeast Undergraduate Research Conference. /PHOTO BY KRIS DREESSEN
How wide, or limited, is our capacity to retain information in our short-term memory?
Michaela Walsh '13 has been examining this question with Kenneth Kallio, associate professor of psychology, as well as how we process audio and visual stimuli in our short-term memories. The study, says Walsh, builds on and complements her minor in cognitive science, and feeds her own interest in how the human brain works.
"I find this research to be fascinating, in the way that it seems to account for fundamental aspects of our everyday experiences that are often overlooked," she says. "We aren't typically aware of the way our short-term memories operate, except maybe when they don't function exactly as we'd like."
Geneseo is highly respected for undergraduate research and opportunities students like Walsh have to conduct high-level research.
She is one of eight Geneseo students who presented their research Oct. 29 and 30 in various fields of discipline at the Council of Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC) Northeast Undergraduate Research Conference in New Hampshire.
Keene State College in Keene, N.H., hosted the conference, where 150 students from six colleges featured their research in the humanities, arts, social sciences and natural sciences. Students discussed their work with other presenters and faculty in their discipline from other COPLAC colleges. It was the largest-ever gathering of undergraduate researchers at a COPLAC sponsored conference.
"Undergraduate research is a hallmark at Geneseo that carries innumerable benefits for our students," says Geneseo Provost Carol Long. COPLAC is an important opportunity, she says, for students to present their research and engage in dialogue with fellow scholars for further understanding of their discipline.
Gabrielle Thomas '12 chose a topic that touches everyone's everyday life — high-fructose corn syrup. As part of her research, she assessed how the syrup is portrayed in the media, examined the Corn Refiners Association campaign about the syrup, and included tests she designed and ran. Those included taste tests that examine perceptions of sweetness and what foods may be healthy, in addition to other factors.
Thomas and Walsh say presenting their work provided them with valuable skills.Walsh says the experience required her to figure out ways to explain her research to people who may not have any background in the field. The biggest obstacle, says Thomas, is the amount of research, reading and planning that went into her paper, and condensing into a 12-minute presentation of highlights.
"I have become a more confident public speaker," says Thomas.
Geneseo students presenting at the conference include: